Strategy 5 is all about slowing down over the summer for one big reason—because we have no other choice! Even my posts about summer strategies have slowed down because I’ve been at a national sporting competition with my family. For those of you with kids who compete, you surely know that competitions of any sort can try a parent-spectator’s patience. There’s a whole lot of waiting, events run behind schedule, and 2:00 quickly morphs into 4:30, tangling up dinner reservations for 25 and other large-group travel logistics. As seasoned veterans of such events, like seasoned teachers, we’ve seen all this before and have crafted many strategies we deploy to cope and regroup with ease. No one’s surprised by these delays—there’s always a Plan B. In fact, we can run through an entire alphabet of plans.
Choose Times Wisely
To be adept and feel even modestly productive at such out-of-our-control events, I’ve learned to be prepared for just about anything. I also don’t treat all hours equally; my expectations of the clock, my family, my work, and myself ebb and flow. I’d never consider trying to work in between events. I tend to work before and after events, allowing myself to wait it out without work pressures during the events themselves. I’ve taken a page or two from the teachers I work to support; I look for optimal times to be productive, capture ideas, and spark learning. Because I know these delays are coming, they do not derail me.
What We Crave About Summer
This sporting event typically marks the speedy descent of summer for our family; once this event is over, we take a short break and then begin to prepare for back-to-school. As I waited between events, I did a lot of thinking about what it is so many of us seem crave about summer, why we wait for it so eagerly, so deftly brace ourselves for it’s rapid evaporation, and then so wistfully long for it to quickly return next year. Based on the teachers with whom I’ve spoken, it seems we crave summer’s freedom, a rare lack of constraint, the ability to slow down and relax—the ability to choose.
That’s a key: slowing down by choice to relax. Regardless of geographic region, and Teacher Peach teachers do hail from many different climates, summertime is associated with warm, beautiful even if hot weather. Summer seems to be universally about having less structured time during which we may choose to do more of what we wish. It’s a time to savor a second cup of morning coffee on the porch, take the dog for a longer run, or decide on impulse that dinner can be a last-minute picnic in front of the television. Regardless of specifics, in the summer, it seems there are fewer obstacles in our way.
Fair Weather Frustrations
As we plotted our driving trip to get to the event, we even added an extra hour for delays leaving the city, an extra snack stop along the way, and so forth. We even prepared for construction. Or so we thought. Because summer’s weather is so much better for so many of us when compared to cold, blustery winters, it is during the summer that we must battle one big summertime nemesis: construction. The old joke about having two seasons, wintertime and construction time, has rarely felt truer. It feels like EVERYWHERE I go this summer, I seem to encounter construction. From main interstates to the back road near the train station in our little town, construction is taking advantage of the summer season.
I thought about this while completely stopped on the interstate, traveling only 23 miles in 148 minutes, an average of less than 10 miles per hour instead of the 70 miles per hour we were anticipating. As we sat there, stranded, I decided this was another form of a summer slow-down. The difference between this slow down and the ones I want during the summer has everything to do with the fact that we did not choose this slow down. I could literally count the orange cones in front of me because we had to move so slowly forward. We did not have any options; we could not turn back or get ahead; we were trapped for two hours.
Savor What You Can
As the minutes ticked on and we realized this was not going to be a short construction delay, we began to compare this to other travel calamities that would have been worse. “We could have been flying there and our flight could have been cancelled; this way, we can just drive longer tonight and still get there before it starts.” “At least we have everything we need here with us. Even string cheese and water, but don’t drink too much of it!” And my favorite, “What if we lived right here and needed to do this every day to get to our jobs or something?”
As we helped one another to just give in to this out-of-control summer surprise, I realized how much we had to be grateful for. After all, we were in an air-conditioned car with a full tank of gas—and we were together. With all of us trying to make the best of it, this delay became a sort of summer adventure. While the kids texted this news to their friends, I decided to be grateful we were safe and simply waiting for progress. I decided to be grateful that these people working had jobs, that it was not too hot outside for them, and that it wasn’t raining.
More Plans from A to Z
As we continued to recalibrate both our expectations and timelines, I realized we were just falling into the habit of regrouping, something we all need, all the time, even during the summer. By the time I realized Plan B had long ago bitten the dust, we were on about Plan G of our strategies. I was comforted knowing we still had 19 more of 26 letters to go. It reminded me of the alphabet cards we recently released. Never did I seem to need these 26 letter options more. Check these A-to-Z Sentiments Greeting Cards and Stickers Kit should you ever find yourself needing some go-to cards for 26 of your students, friends, peers, and more.
On The Road Again
As we worked to make up time, of course, it did begin to pour—torrentially, slowing us down once again. The day after we returned home, we were rushing to an appointment that was not at all convenient and for which we were running late. We jumped in the car and took the back road, hoping to miss the many traffic lights on the main road, only to find ourselves behind a gentleman who was clearly not in any hurry and must have been savoring a lazy summer drive down a winding road. Of course, we were in a no-passing zone. But, this time we did have an option, to turn at the next corner and make our way back to the main road—and we did. Hitting every red light, of course, we eventually made it to the corner where we were to turn left. Can you possibly guess what was sitting in front of us in that turn lane? Yes. This construction vehicle! It seems it was parked; we missed three light as as we sat there with a clear view of the driver who was cleaning his sunglasses. This time, we only laughed. “We better enjoy this part of summer. We can’t seem to avoid it!”
Enjoy Your Summertime Treats
We so hope you are enjoying your summer, treating yourself to a few summer delights, and savoring all you can while rolling with the parts you cannot change, like how slowly traffic moves or how quickly time seems to fly. If you’re taking your dog for that longer summer run, check out The Real Teacher’s Pet™ gear, with everything from bandanas, water and travel bowls, collars, and a leash. If you’re savoring that second cup of coffee on the porch, why not treat yourself to a Teachers Totally Rock coffee mug? Whatever your summer choices may be, we hope you’ll post a comment below to let us know how you are stretching your summer. Stay tuned for the last of the six strategies to stretch the summer, coming as soon as summertime permits.